Setting a new benchmark for innovation within distilling
We’ve come a long way since we launched Archie Rose back in March 2015, but innovation and an unwavering desire to continually improve have always been fundamental to what we do. It sounds a little extreme, but if our spirits aren’t better each year we exist, then we’ve failed. To state that even more bluntly, the Archie Rose you drink today should be the best you’ve ever had and the worst you will ever have again. We are the opposite of that distillery that releases their first product and says, “this is our greatest whisky/gin/vodka/rum ever”, or “we’ve been making our whisky/gin/vodka/rum this way for years and we’ll never change it”. If you can’t make something better in a year, five years, ten years—no disrespect, but you should seriously consider whether you’re any good at what you do.
But enough with that rant. Where we eventually found ourselves at our original Rosebery distillery was constantly being held back by the technological and engineering constraints of the equipment and the site. Effectively, our R&D program, creativity, and desire to evolve had outpaced and outstripped the physical capability of the Rosebery distillery. With our new Botany distillery now fully operational, all of those constraints have been removed, and we have now unlocked an almost limitless landscape of future potential, which we’ve immediately begun to utilise.
There is too much to mention in a single post, but specific to gins and vodkas, with our globally unique copper pot/column hybrid vacuum stills, we can now produce shockingly good botanical distillates – and I mean that literally – the difference in clarity and intensity of the botanical vodkas and gins we are now cold distilling under vacuum versus gins produced in the “normal” way at normal temperatures, is shocking, and you really need to try them to experience the difference. There is no one else in Australia currently producing cold distilled gins in copper vacuum stills, and it is this fundamental shift in the way we are producing botanical spirits that is driving the evolution of our core botanical spirits range.
Archie Rose Vodka 2.0: Native Botanical Vodka
Original Vodka was part of the Archie Rose core range from the very beginning. Initially, we were a little cynical of the vodka category with so many neutral, and in many cases indistinguishable products on the market, but that just meant that the concept for an Archie Rose vodka became a challenge we had to solve by asking ourselves, "Can we make a vodka that we would really enjoy drinking?" That led to Original Vodka, which included small quantities of the botanical distillates we used in our gins. Adding those botanicals created a vodka that had some depth and complexity and was more interesting than standard neutral vodka.
Six years on, and our new Native Botanical Vodka is a reflection of our team's commitment to championing native and local ingredients and the incredible flavour they offer. We’ve always looked to highlight the incredible native and local ingredients we’re lucky enough to have access to in Australia in our gins, and so fully committing to flavour within the vodka category was a project we’d been excited about for some time. Effectively the goal for this product was to take vodka to a point where it has just as much right to be on the table or behind the bar as gin. It's no less interesting and it's no less complex - it has no less reason to be in drinks because it's genuinely making the drink better, not just providing the booze. Native Botanical Vodka is the vodka for people who value flavour, complexity and quality, and it will effectively take a vodka soda and turn it into a cocktail.
The Evolution of Signature Dry Gin
Native Botanical Vodka is a brand new product, whereas Signature Dry Gin is the evolution of the same product. Signature Dry Gin has been around for six years and is an exceptional gin—when we launched, it was pioneering in terms of its use of individually distilled botanicals and the inclusion of some native Australian botanicals which had never before been used in gin. But in 2021 we felt there was room to evolve, improve, and refine, and now we’ve updated it to be what we feel is the best representation of a modern classic Australian dry gin.
The process was less about trying to create a new flavour profile and more about trying to enhance the original Signature Dry flavour profile. In doing that, we found that there were several botanicals in the original recipe that weren't making a significant enough contribution to the overall flavour. If anything, they were reducing the clarity of the distillates that were making a significant contribution. So we challenged each of the botanicals in our Signature Dry Gin recipe to see if they could re-earn their right to be in the product. A number of them didn't. This resulted in us taking out a fairly substantial amount of botanicals and replacing them with a small number of new botanicals - some of which you just couldn't buy commercially when we first launched this gin. Somewhat counterintuitively, the result is a refined but more complex spirit with the signature clarity and intensity that cold distilled botanicals provide. As our Master Distiller Dave mentioned, “Signature Dry Gin has never tasted better than it does now. For the team, it is the culmination of years of trials and hard work. We could not be prouder.”
Relentless Improvement & Inspiring Others
As I mentioned up front, it's really important to us to constantly improve and evolve, in a personal sense and as a business—and this extends to leading and inspiring innovation and improvement within the Australian distilling industry and even within distilling globally. Currently, in Australia, no one else is cold distilling under vacuum in a proper copper pot still set up—and even globally, there are very few people cold distilling under vacuum. However, just as we helped drive awareness and adoption of individually distilled botanicals back in 2015, we hope that we see similar exploration and adoption of cold distillation by other Australian producers in the years to come.
For us though, these new products and our new Botany distillery represent only the beginning of our next phase of R&D and product development and from here the truly exciting thing is to consider where we’ll be and what we’ll be producing in five years.